Homecoming Service Challenge exceeds goal

The challenge met its goal of 10,000 service hours.

The newest event on the Homecoming schedule, the Homecoming Service Challenge, met its goal of 10,000 service hours completed.

The challenge, replacing the traditional Homecoming 5K, was created to allow more MU students and alumni to get involved with Homecoming.

“Even people who aren’t here in Columbia, the alums, can still be a part of Mizzou Homecoming, and it helps the community at the same time,” Homecoming Steering Committee Adviser Carrie Bien said. “It was a way to celebrate Mizzou and the spirit of Homecoming.”

Additionally, Bien said students not a part of a residence hall, Greek Life chapter or other campus organization were able to participate by serving the community.

“This was a way for them to do something smaller, but still be a part of Mizzou Homecoming,” Bien said.

There were many opportunities for both alumni and students to get involved with the challenge, Bien said. Many alumni groups held food drives or worked at local food banks while others cleaned local rivers or did a site clean up at Boys and Girls Town.

Two alumni members from the Des Moines, Iowa chapter worked at the IMT Des Moines Marathon on Oct. 17. Michelle Leonard and her daughter helped with the set up of the water station on the 21st mile of the course.

“We mixed Gatorade, filled many cups with water and Gatorade, handed them out to the runners as they went by, cleaned used cups off of the course and shouted words of encouragement to all the competitors,” Leonard said.

Even long-distance, it was important for Leonard to be involved with the Service Challenge.

“I’ve been a volunteer my whole life just like I’ve been a Tiger my whole life, so it made perfect sense to represent our Central Iowa Tiger Alumni Chapter and the University of Missouri for this Homecoming Service Challenge,” she said.

Hours of service were counted through an online submission form. According to Bien, those wishing to submit hours submitted their name, the number of hours completed, the group they completed it with, a description of the service event and their e-mail address.

“We will contact them through e-mail after Homecoming to update them on the total hours of service,” Bien said.

Although only about 2,500 hours had been submitted at the end of last week, the goal of 10,000 hours was reached during the first part of this week, Service Committee Chairwoman Emily Albertson said. The committee received an e-mail a few days ago stating the goal had been met, but they are not sure the exact moment it happened.

The sudden jump in numbers could be attributed to several factors, Bien said. A lot of alumni chapters’ and students’ events took place within the last week, including the Homecoming Blood Drive, and the organizers had hours backlogged that hadn’t been updated. Hours are still being received.

“We’re still getting more e-mails saying that more hours are being added, so we are way past 10,000 hours now,” Albertson said.

The final number of hours will be announced at the football game Saturday, though students and alumni are encouraged to volunteer throughout October.

The Service Challenge was a relatively quick addition to the Homecoming schedule, as it was developed in late July and most events were planned in January.

The Service Committee was in charge of advertising and speaking to many of the campus organizations and answering questions through e-mail.

“It was a very low-maintenance project,” Albertson said.

The Challenge was seen as a success by its organizers, and hopes are high for holding this event in the future, especially as a part of next year’s centennial Homecoming.

“As more people heard about it, they were more excited about it,” Bien said. “Hopefully in the future we will get more alums and people across the country involved in the program.”

Bien said the Homecoming Service Challenge helped to reinforce service as a tradition of Homecoming week, just like the football game and talent show.

“When you look at the tradition of service and the values our students and alums have, we’re just finding another way to connect those values with the values of Mizzou Homecoming,” Bien said.

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